Easier Way, The
USES A PEGBOARD DEVICE TO ILLUSTRATE PRINCIPLES OF MOTION STUDY WHICH ARE LATER TRANSFERRED TO THE FACTORY & THE HOME. PRESENTS CASE FOR MOTION STUDY IN PARTICULAR & SHOWS HOW SKEPTICS CAN BE CONVINCED THAT MOTION STUDY IS A GOOD THING.
It was not a friendly time at General Motors after a 113-day strike in the winter of 1945-46. The United Auto Workers (UAW) had been recognized by GM just four and a half years before the start of World War II, and wartime controls had regulated wage and price increases. Embryonic before being interrupted by war, the relationship between labor and management was young and poorly developed, and management was used to having its way, accustomed to telling workers what to do and how to do it. The Easier Way, which GM commissioned in 1946, expresses this attitude, selling efficiency as a boon for the worker rather than a means of maximizing profits.
The Easier Way was designed to convince line management (many of whom had risen from the ranks) that time and motion study was a good thing for industrial workers. Bob (a motion study expert) and Marge invite Dick Gardner, an assembly-line foreman and his wife over for dinner. The two men start talking about motion study. Bob asserts that "a man can produce more without working a bit harder." Dick has risen from the ranks and is suspicious of all this time and motion study stuff, feeling that it's just designed to wring more work out of people. Bob tries to disabuse him of this idea, saying, "Now we're able to produce more and more stuff with less and less effort on the part of the guys who do the work. That's what motion study's for. We point out how the machines and tools and the methods of using them should be changed to make it easier for the operator." Dick is still suspicious: "It's gonna be hard to make some of the boys understand that." Bob answers, "It'll take time. But first, I've gotta sell men like you."
Bob, Marge and the Gardners play with a pegboard and practice different ways of inserting the pegs into the holes. This hands-on demo convinces Dick of the righteousness of Bob's views: "The boys will listen to stuff that makes sense. Especially if it makes it easier for us to get
Like a grown-up Alexander Phipps, Bob tries to infiltrate motion study into the domestic routine. "Now take this simple job of setting the table. Women do it the hard way." "Now Bob," says Marge, "you can't run a house like a factory." Bob responds: "Why not? Think of the effort you'd save. Maybe you wouldn't be so tired at the end of the day." As Marge sets the table, Bob sneaks a look at his timepiece. As the film ends, she ties an apron around Bob and makes him do the dishes.
In The Easier Way, we see company management drawing a line between issues subject to bargaining and others that it considers non-negotiable. GM is asserting here that the work process Ñ its technology, design and management Ñ is its own to plan and control, no matter how much influence unions exert in its plants. In fact, productivity increases were a major agenda item for General Motors at the time. In 1948, GM chairman Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. and president Charles E. Wilson proposed that the new GM-UAW contract link wage increases to increases in worker productivity, with adjustments for the cost of living. This clause was adopted in 1948 and was part of labor agreements for over twenty years. The business community praised the linkage between productivity and wages, and General Motors "got its production."
MOTION STUDY WORK LABOR INDUSTRIALIZATION TIME STUDY PEGBOARDS MODELS HOUSEWORK MEN WOMEN DINNERS DINING ROOMS HOUSES HOMES INTERIORS SPEEDUPS EFFICIENCY MOTIVATION ECONOMICS TAYLORISM
Subject: Very Matter of Fact
Dick should have had more time in the green room, though, to put that ratty toupee on better and smack it down with some Brylcream. In that side shot it looks like a birds nest on his head.
Not much drama but the setting is soooo perfectly retro - right down to that flouncy apron and perfectly accomodating wives.
Subject: Things aren't what they appear!
The reality is different as I found out during a summer factory job I had. We were assembling lawn sprinkers and had a daily quota to meet. If we exceeded the quota, we got a bonus. One 8-hr. shift we assembled so many sprinkers we got paid for 11 hours. I was happy as a clam! But the other workers, the ones who would still be assembling sprinkers when I went back to college, were alarmed. They explained that the "time & motion" man would soon be around to
figure out why we were over-filling the quota.
If we kept over-filling the quota, they would raise the quota---bye bye bounses! The trick was to over-fill the quota some days, but not on others---and not by so much as to arouse the company's interest. That way, they could earn a little extra from time-to-time, but not have the quota adjusted so that they could never earn any bonus. My practical education in factory life!
The "time & motion" men were despised...seen as having one goal: to squeeze as much from the workers as possible at the lowest cost to the company. GM's little film doesn't mantion any of this, of course!
Subject: Anyone for Folger's Crystals???
Subject: Frederick Taylor would be proud
Subject: Look, Ma! I Can Bore My Dinner Guests with Both Hands!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Subject: Bob shows Dick he doesn't have to work so hard
Subject: PREPOSTEROUSLY GREAT!